Book cover - Burned and Broken by Mark HardiePeter James meets James Oswald in this gripping, gritty British crime debut.

The charred body of an enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out shell of his car on the Southend sea front.

Meanwhile, a vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery of their colleague’s death, dark, dangerous secrets begin to surface. Can they solve both cases, before it’s too late?

Mark Hardie’s stylish and gripping debut introduces a brilliant new detective duo to the world of crime fiction, weaving together two suspenseful stories that end in a breath-taking finale.

Review: Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie is a dark crime thriller – a genre I usually love. I always enjoy the suspense, the winding stories and rollercoaster plots. This book definitely has all of these things. It had a few things I generally really like in a book, but unfortunately, I just didn’t get into this book as much as I’d hoped.

This book flicked between times and characters, a trait I like a lot in books. I found it a little confusing in this one, though. There were so many characters introduced in one go, and the perspectives AND times were switching around so much. A few times, I read a whole chapter without actually knowing who it was about. I found it hard to follow because of this, and it didn’t help that I didn’t really care for any of the characters.

Another bugbear I had with it was the way that some parts were written. It’s not that there’s an issue with the writing; it’s just that it wasn’t a style I’m used to/a fan of. There were a few sentences that seemed unnecessary complex or a bit clumsy, and it made them hard to read smoothly. It was quite frustrating at times. For example:

“He’d thought about telling her. He’d definitely thought about telling her. Then he’d thought about what kind of reaction he might get, and decided that it might not be such a good idea; that it would very definitely be a bad idea.”

Like I said, others might look at things like this and think, “So what?” but it just niggled me a bit!

Finally, there was a certain element of ‘masculinity’ to the way it’s written. I’m not too sure how to explain this point without being like “IT SOUNDS LIKE A MAN’S BOOK!!1” because that’s totally not what I mean. A lot of the language (like the dialogue and the way things were described) just seems very ‘blokey’, with a lot of swearing and and harsh descriptions (for example, describing the colour of something as “piss-yellow”). It made me think it’s written with a more male target audience in mind.

The Verdict

This was such a hard book to review! Honestly, I can imagine a lot of people would love this kind of book. However, for me personally, it’s not my style. It’s very dark and grungy – if it were a TV show, it would be dark and shadowy, full of dark shots and smoke in the air. It’s just not my cup of tea, but thousands of people love that kind of thing.

My rating for this one is not entirely a reflection on the writing, as such, but just on how much I personally enjoyed it. If you like dark, grungy crime fiction, this might be for you, but it just wasn’t exactly to my taste. Please don’t let my review alone sway you, though. You might love it!

About the Author

Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing full-time after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea.

Thank you to Little, Brown UK for sending me a copy of this book to review. If you’re interested in buying a copy, you can find out more about it on Goodreads or buy the eBook. The paperback will be out later this year!

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